This project kicked off on August 8, 2012 with a workshop at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH) to explore visitor and member pathways at our institution. The workshop was led by Adaptive Path, an innovative San Francisco experience design firm that will help us develop a “map” of the visitor and member experience.

In the fall of 2012, we began experimenting with new ideas based on the workshop – most notably, a focus on the end of the visitor experience and how we can create links to help visitors learn about coming back and getting more involved.

In the winter of 2012, we began a second round of testing, with a focus on making the museum visit experience habitual via a “Five Fridays Challenge.” We also began investigating in earnest ways to improve our tracking and ongoing communication with visitors and members.

On January 29, 2013, we are holding a public workshop with museum practitioners and game designers to analyze these experiments and set goals for the future.

By the spring of 2013, we expect to have a series of tested new approaches that we will roll out at our organization.

This process will be openly documented here. We hope you will join us on this journey and share your thoughts and projects along the way.


More Formal Description of the Schedule

There are three major components to this project:

  1. Research (summer/fall 2012): Identifying types of visitor interaction with the institution (“touch points”) and mapping relationships among them.
  2. Experimentation (winter 2012): Developing and testing creative, low-cost ways to track and respond to different touch points in ways that encourage participants to increase involvement.
  3. Execution (spring 2013): Designing a manageable long-term operating plan for participant tracking and response based on experimental results.

In the Research phase, museum staff, volunteers, members, and visitors will work together to create maps of the various touch points between visitors and the institution. MAH staff members will recruit focus groups of members and visitors to inform the process. The MAH will hire a facilitator to help steer the process. The deliverable from this phase will be a “participant experience map” that documents the many ways that people interact with the museum and the relationships among the interactions.

In the Experimentation phase, the MAH will partner with a small group of outside technologists, museum professionals, game designers, graphic designers, and customer experience experts to brainstorm possible strategies for recognizing, rewarding, and responding to participants at the various touch points. After an active one-day design session with outsiders, MAH staff members and volunteers will develop a short list of the most promising ideas and will test these in prototype form to evaluate their viability. Evaluation will focus both on ease of operation and impact on visitor experience.

In the Execution phase, MAH staff members will write protocols for ongoing delivery of the most promising tracking and response strategies. This phase may include graphic design or technology design work by outside contractors depending on the results of the experiments. For example, the experiments may suggest that a customizable member card is very important (thus requiring graphic design) or that an automated post-visit email system is highly effective (thus requiring software development). The MAH will retain a fixed amount of the budget for the Execution phase and will provide/seek additional funds to supplement this budget if necessary based on the results of the Experimentation phase.